Volleyball Basics: Volleyball 101

Volleyball Basics

This section is dedicated to giving you all the information you may need to know if you are new to volleyball, interested in playing, a volleyball parent, or even if you just need a refresher course.  Consider it Volleyball 101!

Here are some common questions answered on this page.

What is volleyball?

How is the game scored?

What about the court and the net?

How many people play on a team?

What are the positions?

What terms do I need to know?


What is volleyball?

  • Volleyball is a sport that is played by two competing teams on a court that is divided by a net.  The object of the game is to continually send the ball back over to the opponent’s side of the net, while keeping the ball off the floor, or ground of your side of the court.  The game is started with a serve which can be over or underhand, depending on the game or tournament standard rules.  Each team is allowed to hit the ball three consecutive times in an attempt to send the ball back over to their opponent’s side of the court.  Typically, each side’s turn consists of a bump (pass), a set and a spike (hit).  No individual player is allowed to hit the ball two times consecutively (except with a block- please see the rules page).  The volley or rally continues until the ball hits the floor; this results in either a point or sideout.  Also, a point or sideout is given to the opposing team if a team commits a fault (please see the rules page).

How is the game scored?

  • Indoor Volleyball
  • Rally:
  • -In rally scoring, the point winning the rally or volley wins the point.  A point is awarded after the ball hits the ground on every serve.  When a team wins the rally, they gain the point and the serve.  If they already have the serve prior to gaining the point, the same server continues to serve for the next rally.  If the team wins the rally and their opponent served for that point, the serving team rotates one position clockwise and the person in the serving position or position serves (please see the positions chart

– In rally scoring, a match consists of the best 3 out of 5 games.  Each non match deciding game is played to 25.  The first team to 25 by an advantage of 2 wins the game.  In a deciding game, the first team to 15 by an advantage of 2 wins the match.

    • Sideout:

    -In sideout scoring, only the serving team is awarded a point.  If the serving team looses the volley, then it results in a sideout, where the opposing team is awarded the serve, and a chance to score a point.  When the receiving team gains a sideout, they rotate one position clockwise and the person in the serving position, position 1, serves.

    -In sideout scoring, a match consists of the best 3 out of 5 games.  Each non match deciding came is played to 15 with a point cap at 17.  The first team to 15 by an advantage of 2 or the first team to 17 (in the event of a 16-16 tie) wins the game.  In a deciding game, there is no point cap, and the first team to 15 by an advantage of 2 wins the match.

  • Beach Volleyball
    • Beach Rally:

    -In beach rally scoring, a match consists of the best 2 of 3 games.  The first 2 games are played to 21 by an advantage of 2 with no point cap.  If a third game is required, the first team to 15 by an advantage of 2 wins.

-A side change occurs during each game; this is where the teams switch to their opponents side of the court.  In the first 2 games, the side change occurs when the first team reaches 7 points.  In the third game, a side change occurs at every 5 point interval.

A Volleyball Court
A Volleyball Court

What about the court and the net?

  • Indoor Volleyball court basics
    • The court:

-The court dimensions are 30 feet x 60 feet – each side of the net being 30-feet x 30-feet.

-There is a line (attack line), 10 feet from the net and center line which demarcates where defensive players (those in positions 1, 6 and 5 – please see positions diagram) are not allowed to jump in front of.  This line prevents all players on one side of the court from being able to make offensive plays at the net at one time.

    • The net:

-The net spans the across the center line of the court.  The net is generally longer than the length of the center line; however, antennae placed above each side line (30 ft. apart) demarcate the in-bounds of the court play.

-The poles holding the net are generally 36 feet apart.

-Women – the net is 7 ft. 4 ¼ inches tall from the top of the center of the net to the floor.

-Men – the net is 8 ft. 0 inches in height from the top of center of the net to the floor.

  • Beach Volleyball court basics
    • The court:

-The court dimensions are 8 meters x 16 meters (26-feet 3-inches x 52-feet 6-inches) – each side of the net being 8 x 8 meters (26-feet 3-inches by 26-feet 3-inches)

-There is no attack line; either player may make an offensive play.

    • The net:

-The net spans across the center line of the court.

-Women – the net is 7ft. 4 ¼ inches tall from the top of the center of the net to the top of the sand.

-Men – the net is 7ft. 11 5/8 inches tall from the top of the center of the net to the top of the sand.

How many people play on a team?

  • Indoor Volleyball
    • 6 people play on each side of the court at once.  However, each team may consist of many players to allow for substitutions, injuries and position specialties.
    • 12 people total are on a full indoor volleyball court at once.
    • The number of offensive and defensive players changes from different offensive/defensive strategies (i.e. 6-1, 4-2, 5-2 etc.) – please see the offensive/defensive page
  • Beach Volleyball
    • 2 people play on each side of the court at once.  Teams only consist of 2 people.
    • 4 people total are on a full beach volleyball court at once.
    • The players on a beach volleyball team play both offense and defense.

What are the positions?

Volleyball Rotations

  • Indoor Volleyball
    • Offensive positions are those positions at the net.  These players set the ball up for a spike or spike the ball aggressively to their opponents side of the court.
      • Hitters- play in positions 3 and 4 and sometimes 2, and are better known as Right Front, Center Front and Left Front.
        • Right and Left front are outside hitters on offense.  Middle Front players are middle hitters on onffense.
      • Setter- plays in position 2.  They are passing specialists.  They usually set every 2nd touch each time the ball comes over the net. They most often face the left sideline and can set to any of the offensive positions.
      • Server- plays in position 1.  Serves when their team has serve possession, plays defense otherwise.
    • Defensive positions are both at the net and in the back row. These players dig or pass balls served or hit at them from their opponent’s offense or block against spikes in the front row.
      • Defense/ diggers- play in positions 1, 6 and 5.  They are passers and are especially responsible for keeping the ball off the floor.  These players can also do what is called a back row attack during offense, and may jump, but cannot do so in front of the attack line.
      • Libero- plays in any back row position.  They are expert passers who are quick and precise in keeping the ball off the ground on serve receive and in digging a spike. (please see the rules page for more unique features of the libero)
      • Blockers- play in positions 2, 3 and 4.  These players are usually offensive players; however, in a defensive situation, they may attempt what is called a block, where they try to stop the opposing team’s attacker from hitting the ball to their side of the court.
  • Beach Volleyball
    • Because there are only 2 players on a team, each player plays all positions at any time.

What terms do I need to know?

Terms – click here

One Response to Volleyball Basics: Volleyball 101

  1. cassidy says:

    I love this website it helped me get my work sooooooo fast

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